In late December, the all-male Iowa Supreme Court upheld a lower-court
ruling that a dental assistant could be fired because she was so hot that
she constituted a threat to her boss’ marriage. I checked the date on the
Associated Press story. It was indeed 2012 and not 1812.
The excruciatingly twisted logic that led to the ruling is just one more illustration of the barriers women have to overcome in the work place. Now there is another: Keep your boss from getting aroused.
Melissa Nelson worked for James Knight for 10 years. In the last couple,
he began getting suggestive toward her, texting her on the frequency of
her orgasms and lamenting that if she wasn’t having sex it was like
parking a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it.
Knight’s wife also worked in his office. When she got wind of the texts she demanded Nelson be fired. Knight’s lawyer, Stuart Cochrane, said his client was a religious and moral person who consulted a presumably religious and moral pastor who agreed that Nelson must go. The immorality of forced unemployment on a person who had a sterling work record was not discussed by anyone.
This is the same court, in name at least, that legalized gay marriage a
couple of years ago. Reactionaries in the state forced the three justices
responsible onto a ballot referendum where each was voted out in 2010,
Their replacements were chosen by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad to upholdthe conservative idea of family values. One of the new judges, Edward Mansfield, wrote the opinion against Nelson.
Obviously, this guy should never have gotten near a bench. He wrote that
bosses can fire employees they see as “irresistible attractions” even if
the employee has not engaged in flirtatious behavior. Here is the idiotic
part of the ruling: What Knight did was not unlawful discrimination
because the firing was motivated by emotions and feelings not gender.